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Urban Dictionary’s description of Instagram looks something like this:
1. Every hipster’s favorite way to make it look like they take really classy pictures when really they are still using their phones. Yeah, you might look really cute/old school/vintage/retro, but it’s still a cell phone picture.
(I love their other four definitions just as much.) Now, I’m not going to slam Instagram. It seems to provide everyone with a lot of fun, and if I don’t love fun…Well, what do I love? However, it is an app and it works great with your cellphone pics. What if, though…What if…What if there was a way to hipster your photos, y’know, not on your cellphone. And way better. *cough* I didn’t say that.
Firstly, I should tell you, I have played around with the functions I’m about to mention and they can make ANY photos look cool. I think that’s actually why Instagram is so popular. It makes your crappy pictures look interesting, retro, and artsy. Your bacon and eggs end up looking like you’re at a roadside diner on the interstate, circa 1968, and any moment someone is going to walk through the door and pull you into their frenzied, Tarantino-movie life. When in reality, you were at iHop with your cellphone.
Allow me to demonstrate:
If you like the lame version better, it could be that you’re just missing the hipster gene, and that’s ok. I see enough pictures with filters on my Facebook wall to know that this is a thing that people like. That’s ok too.
So, how do you use ACDSee Pro to make any photo look funky?
Step 1: Find a photo that you think deserves (more) attention. From Manage mode, select the photo and click Edit to enter Edit mode.
Note: You can also hipster non-destructively by using Cross Process in Develop mode. The only down side is that you will have to add another step to get the vignette effect by using the Post-Crop Vignette tool.
Step 2: (Pssst! You may want to amp up the intensity of the colors in your photo first, but you didn’t hear that from me.) In Edit mode, in the Add group, choose Special Effect. From the list of Special Effects, choose Lomo.
Step 3: Configure the settings according to the level of desired hipsterism. I feel like a hipster might go for a whole less-is-more thing, but maybe it would depend on their age and how well they’ve come to terms with their own hipster ways. Myself, I prefer being immature, so I’m going to crank the settings way up.
So the Color Distortion slider is exactly what it sounds like, and depending on the color pixels in the image, you may get more blue/purple hues, or yellow/green. The Vignette Strength controls how much darkness curves into the photo from the edges for that bulb-is-about-to-burn-out-in-the-kinetoscope look. Et voilà!
Where did all this come from?
Ok, so we’ve got all these elements coming together. Lomo filters, cross processing, hipsters…Perhaps where they intersect could provide some explanation for the popularity of the Instagram filter.
So back in the days of film, when photographers were hand processing, sometimes through experimentation, or by mistake, they would mix up the chemical solutions that were intended for certain types of film. So, you have chemical solution A, which is supposed to go with film type A. And chemical solution B for film type B, and you end up processing film A with solution B, etc. Perhaps, at first, subverting the norm was enough for these early hipsters, but the concept of intentionally mixing the solutions soon led to art. The resulting photographs are characterized by high contrast and over saturation, creating a sort of hyper reality or dreamlike look. And I don’t mean “dreamlike” as in dreamy. I mean like an actual dream where you’d go on a quest through a blue desert with a talking armadillo as your sidekick. And, like in a dream, some photographed subjects look better and others look worse by conventional standards, but either result is atmospheric, and, some would say, inspiring.
So what about “lomo”? Well, in the 90s, some students in Vienna came across a Lomo camera, a Russian-made analog from the 80s, and began experimenting. They were stoked by the unique results — over-saturated, colorful, — and they formed the Lomographic Society International. This movement is still going strong today and has found a great home on the internet.
Put this all together and I think you’ll find a look that is so popular that Instagram had to get a piece of the pie… but for cellphone pics. But today, you don’t need to be limited to your so-so cellphone pics, or mixing chemicals in your bathtub. We have both destructive and non-destructive solutions in the Cross Process tool and Lomo Special Effect.